GS 1998 art 110

GS 1998 Article 110Appeal of Burlington Fellowship re Women’s Voting

Committee IV presents agenda item III.P.


An appeal from Fellowship Canadian Reformed Church in Burlington regarding Article 51 of Synod Abbotsford 1995.


Synod declares this appeal admissible.


  • A. The Council of Fellowship Canadian Reformed Church appeals the decision found in Article 51 of the Acts of General Synod Abbotsford 1995 on the following grounds:
    • 1. This decision contradicts earlier Synod decisions with respect to the jurisdiction of synod. This is substantiated by the following arguments:
      • i. the matter of women’s voting was not a new matter, and has been dealt with (at) various Synods directly: see Synod Coaldale, 1977, Art 27; Synod Smithville, 1980, Art. 83; Synod Cloverdale 1983, Art. 160;
      • ii. the request to appoint (re-establish) a committee is not an appeal, but an overture, and the request was not within the province of a minor assembly.
      • iii. matters which belong to the jurisdiction of the federated churches (i.e. matters involving the churches in common) can be placed directly on the agenda of General Synod: see Synod Abbotsford 1995, Art. 73 III b.
    • 2. Synod incorrectly declared the overture inadmissible on the basis that there were no new grounds. This is substantiated (partly) as follows: having decided that the matter was inadmissible for lack of jurisdiction, it was inconsistent and incorrect for Synod Abbotsford to then consider the merits of the request, including the consideration of whether there are new grounds.
  • B. The Council of Fellowship Canadian Reformed Church requests that, if this appeal is granted, General Synod Fergus 1998 “establish a committee with the mandate to study once more the matter of women’s voting rights, having regard to the developments since 1983, which committee is to present a report with its specific recommendations to the next Synod.”


  • A. It is true that ‘Women’s participation in the election of office bearers’ is not a new matter in the sense that it has never been dealt with by the churches before. Yet the submission of Sr. C. VanEerden was not an appeal against a decision of a previous assembly; instead it was submitted to General Synod as a new matter to be dealt with. It is “a new matter”(Article 30, C.O.).
  • B. It is also true that previous general synods have dealt with matters even when minor assemblies had not dealt with them. The appellants are also correct in their assertions that synods have, on occasions, defended this course of action on the basis that these matters ‘belong to the churches in common.’ This is not normative, however, because it is contrary to the adopted Church Order.
  • C. It is unfortunate that these precedents have given the appellants the impression that when matters belong to the churches in common, it is no longer necessary for the minor assembly to deal with them first. The fact that Article 30 CO was not always applied properly in the past, however, does not mean that we should violate the adopted order today.
  • D. It is also true, as the appellant observes, that the request was not within the province of a common assembly. This does not mean, however, that these minor assemblies do not have to deal with them first. On the contrary: it is first necessary that a consistory place a matter on the agenda of a classis; and only if a classis is convinced of the validity of the proposal will it be placed on the agenda of Regional Synod. If Regional Synod is convinced that the proposal is valid, it will place the matter on the agenda of General Synod.
  • E. When an overture is declared inadmissible on the basis of Article 30, C.O., it is not appropriate for synod to interact with the substance of the overture.


General Synod decide:

  • A. to declare that General Synod Abbotsford 1995 did not err when it declared the overture of Sr. C. VanEerden inadmissible on the ground of Article 30 C.O.
  • B. to declare that General Synod Abbotsford 1995 erred when it used Article 33 C.O. as a second ground to declare the overture of Sr. C. VanEerden inadmissible.
  • C. To deny the appeal of the Fellowship Canadian Reformed Church at Burlington South.